Europe-wide pension for researchers mooted

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A pan-European pension fund for researchers and a system of “portable grants” are among a raft of new measures contained in a European Parliament report aimed at boosting scientists’ career mobility.

The proposals are outlined in a report designed to make careers in research more attractive, drafted by Italian MEP Pia Elda Locatelli (PES) and unanimously adopted by the Parliament’s industry committee on February 12. 

Member states and the Commission should also review the legal position of PhD students across Europe to assess whether a uniform PhD student status could be introduced under employment legislation, the committee said. 

To boost mobility and exchange between scientists, the committee urges member states to introduce portable grants, which would allow researchers to conduct research in another member state if facilities are not available in their home universities or institutes. 

They also propose a “research voucher” scheme, which would see research institutions and universities receive funding from another member state for hosting researchers from that country. 

The report says the profile of scientific research in the general budget should be raised in order to achieve the target of training 600,000 more researchers, on average, by 2010. Member states must also encourage European scientists working outside the EU to return by increasing their salaries. 

In addition, MEPs said entering the EU should be made easier for scientists from third countries who wish to work in Europe. A special visa for researchers to facilitate exchanges with non-EU researchers could also be considered, according to the report. 

The report will be considered at the Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg in March. 

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